Skip to main content

Solidifying new coach, offensive adjustments among Raiders' priorities following Jon Gruden's resignation

Two days after Jon Gruden's stunning resignation as Raiders head coach, owner Mark Davis addressed his team Wednesday morning.

Davis said a lot. He discussed the timeline of events leading to Gruden's exit, including multiple leaks of the coach’s personal emails in which he used racist, homophobic and misogynistic language. He also talked about how close he was to Gruden, how difficult the situation was for both of them, and why he chose longtime Gruden assistant Rich Bisaccia as the right man to be interim coach as the franchise tries to move forward. He was, in the words of one coach, "all positive."

On the field, that process begins in earnest today against the AFC West rival Broncos in Denver. Off the field, the process is just beginning for Davis to identify new leadership for a franchise that had been remade in Gruden's image, and now must figure out how to redefine itself after an unprecedented crisis.

Sources say the Raiders are expected to convene a small group of advisors to assist Davis in the search for Gruden's successor and decide whether Gruden's hand-picked general manager, Mike Mayock, stays on as part of the new regime.

The head coaching position should be a coveted one, and starting the search early should help. Among the names to watch should be all of the top candidates, including -- but not limited to -- Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll; Ravens DC Don "Wink" Martindale (who is close with Davis and has interviewed for the Raiders job in the past); Patriots de facto DC Jerod Mayo; Colts DC Matt Eberflus; Bucs OC Byron Leftwich and DC Todd Bowles; Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy; Rams OC Kevin O'Connell and DC Raheem Morris; Cardinals DC Vance Joseph; Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett; Giants DC Patrick Graham; and current Raiders assistants Gus Bradley and Bisaccia.

The chance to lead an iconic franchise also could prove appealing to college coaches who have received NFL interest in the past, such as Iowa State's Matt Campbell.

As is customary in cases involving a resignation, the Raiders are expected to work out a settlement with Gruden, who was due somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 million over the first five years of the 10-year, $100 million contract he signed in 2018 to come out of retirement and rejoin the franchise after a years-long pursuit by Davis.

In his second stint with the team, Gruden overhauled the roster, including trading away stars Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, overhauled staff, most notably replacing Reggie McKenzie with Mayock, and finished on a 22-31 record with no playoff appearances in three-plus seasons, though this year's 3-2 team might have been his best.

After Gruden stepped down, sources say Bisaccia quickly put his stamp on the program with a number of player-friendly changes, such as moving back the team's daily schedule to start a little later, reducing the number of plays per period in practice and spending less time on artificial turf (which players roundly dislike compared to grass).

The offensive game plan also will be pared down, and play-calling -- one of Gruden's many responsibilities -- will be worth monitoring. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson will assume primary play-calling duties, but it'll be a collaboration with others, including offensive line coach Tom Cable. Quarterback Derek Carr will also be heavily involved.

Carr already had the ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage based on formation and personnel. But he has veto power and his suggestions are going to be heard. Olson's philosophy on moving the ball is also a little different than Gruden's, so subtle differences may be noticeable.

As for the rest of the team, sources say energy level at practice was high and players are, by and large, ready to just move forward.

Defensive end Carl Nassib, the NFL's first openly gay player on an active roster, took a personal day Wednesday but fully participated in practice the rest of the week.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelissero.